Breeanna Straessle is the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ 2018 Outstanding Alumna in Public Relations. Straessle is also a former, two-time judge of the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Awards, and she was recently recognized on PRWeek’s 40 under 40 list. Currently, Straessle is a corporate communications manager at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.
“Cracker Barrel is an iconic brand with a rich history,” Straessle said. “The company has countless stories – so many of them yet to be told – and that was very attractive to me as a communicator and storyteller.”
Straessle studied public relations at The University of Alabama as an undergraduate student and went on to obtain her master’s degree in advertising and public relations.
“UA’s public relations program is truly one of the best, and its master’s program is even better. Coming out of graduate school, I felt well prepared to join the workforce,” Straessle said. “To this day, I encourage undergraduate public relations students to pursue graduate degrees. It’s helped differentiate me from my peers, and I’m forever grateful for the experience.”
At UA, Straessle helped found Platform Magazine and held a seat on the C&IS 2007 Academic Honor Council board. Honor Council and Platform Magazine helped prepare Straessle for her post-graduate career, but her one regret is not being more involved in UA’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.
Straessle attributes a large portion of her success to the instructors at UA who served as mentors and leaders.
“Susan Daria and Mike Little gave me a great crash course on graphic design and Adobe Creative Suite, which proved to be a tremendously handy skill early in my career,” Straessle said. “Once in graduate school, Bruce Berger became my mentor…and I learned a great deal from him. Joseph Phelps and Meg Lamme were also great leaders for me during that time.”
Straessle plans to continue practicing public relations for large national brands.
“One of the wonderful things about public relations is that if successful, you see a tangible output of your work,” Straessle said. “However, public relations is so much more than that. The root of what we do goes beyond media coverage. It’s about reaching people, spreading awareness, and creating brand affinity.”